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We Can't Wait: President Obama Signs Executive Order to Make Broadband Construction Faster and Cheaper

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Tomorrow, the President will sign an Executive Order to make broadband construction along Federal roadways and properties up to 90 percent cheaper and more efficient. Currently, the procedures for approving broadband infrastructure projects on properties controlled or managed by the Federal Government--including large tracts of land, roadways, and more than 10,000 buildings across the Nation--vary depending on which agency manages the property. The new Executive Order will ensure that agencies charged with managing Federal properties and roads take specific steps to adopt a uniform approach for allowing broadband carriers to build networks on and through those assets and speed the delivery of connectivity to communities, businesses, and schools.

"Building a nationwide broadband network will strengthen our economy and put more Americans back to work," said President Obama. "By connecting every corner of our country to the digital age, we can help our businesses become more competitive, our students become more informed and our citizens become more engaged."

The White House is also announcing that nearly 100 partners--including more than 25 cities as well as corporate and non-profit entities--will join with more than 60 national research universities to form a new public-private partnership called "US Ignite." The US Ignite Partnership will create a new wave of services that take advantage of state-of-the-art, programmable broadband networks running up to 100 times faster than today's Internet. By bringing software developers and engineers from government and industry together with representatives from communities, schools, hospitals, and other institutions that will benefit from faster and more agile broadband options, the partnership aims to speed up and increase the development of applications for advanced manufacturing, medical monitoring, emergency preparedness, and a host of other services. These applications will improve services to Americans and drive job creation, promote innovation, and create new markets for American businesses.

Executive Order

The Executive Order (EO) will require the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Interior, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs as well as the US Postal Service to offer carriers a single approach to leasing Federal assets for broadband deployment. The EO also requires that available Federal assets and the requirements for leasing be provided on departmental websites, and it will require public tracking of regional broadband deployment projects via the Federal Infrastructure Projects Dashboard (permits.performance.gov). In addition, the Executive Order will direct departments to help carriers time their broadband deployment activities to periods when streets are already under construction--an approach that can reduce network deployment costs along Federal roadways by up to 90 percent.

US Ignite

Today, more and more of the Nation's broadband infrastructure is capable of moving huge amounts of information quickly and in novel, programmable ways, but software developers have been unable to create applications that take full advantage of this new capacity--in part because potential user communities such as factories and hospitals have lacked the means to coordinate their needs with developers capabilities. The new US Ignite Partnership (www.us-ignite.org) will create a national network of communities and campuses with ultra-fast, programmable broadband services, operating at speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second. This network will become a test-bed for designing and deploying next-generation applications to support national priorities areas such as education, healthcare, energy, and advanced manufacturing. US Ignite will challenge students, startups, and industry leaders to create a new generation of applications and services that meet the needs of local communities while creating a broad range of job and investment opportunities. This initiative will open up countless new opportunities for households and small businesses, helping them experience the economic and community benefits of next-gen applications while demonstrating a path for other communities to join.

Among the commitments being announced today by participants in the new partnership:

Industry partners offer support to partnership: Global industry leaders including Cisco, Juniper, NEC, and Hewlett-Packard are offering programmatic and in-kind support to communities while carriers, like Verizon and Comcast, are announcing new pilot cities on their network that will participate in US Ignite.
New tools for communities: Non-profits, like the Mott Foundation, are working with the partnership to deliver new community programs, such as hack days and startup weekends, to accelerate the transition these applications into the marketplace.
National coalition of universities: The National Science Foundation (NSF) is committing $20 million to prototype and deploy new technologies to advance the development of ultra-high-speed, programmable broadband networks. That is in addition to the ~$40 million that NSF has invested over four years in the Global Environment for Networking Innovations (GENI) project, which currently connects more than a dozen universities with next-generation broadband connections. Built with the technological contributions of more than 300 NSF-funded researchers at more than 60 universities, GENI is already serving as a virtual laboratory and testbed for next-generation applications in healthcare, energy efficiency, education, and other national priority areas.
Next-gen apps challenge to spur innovation: NSF and Mozilla Foundation, with support from the Department of Energy, are announcing a $500,000 design competition to develop applications for high-speed communities around the country.
Building on current broadband investments: Departments of Commerce and Agriculture are announcing their support for US Ignite with over six carriers that received funding for expanding their broadband networks while creating new community-based services.
Supporting military families and communities with new applications: Department of Defense is connecting military families on base with new US Ignite services, while creating new research opportunities to students at West Point. HHS's Beacon Community Program, starting with the Mayo Clinic, and the Federal Communications Commission's Rural Healthcare Pilot Program are partnering with US Ignite to provide new healthcare applications, such as remote surgical theatre and patient monitoring.

Building on Success

These announcements build on past successes and the President's commitment to deploying high-speed broadband networks as a nationwide foundation for sustained economic growth and prosperity. Broadband deployment programs already underway include:

NTIA's Recovery Act projects are increasing broadband access in communities across the country, with more than 56,000 miles of networks providing broadband access to more than 8,000 schools, libraries, hospitals, and public safety entities.
USDA's Rural Utilities Service is currently on target to complete over $3 billion in Recovery Act investments ensuring that rural communities and anchor institutions are connected to high-speed broadband networks.
By taking full advantage of the latest broadband technologies as they evolve, the United States can continue in its role as a global leader while strengthening its economy, building new industries and creating jobs.


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